So, I’ve started my new job and it seems to be going well, aside from the fact that I am now expected to do some serious work. I have gone from working for an oil company to working for an engineering services contractor, which is a bit like going from captain to cabin boy. Oil companies do not make their money from utilising peoples’ time so generally their time management is appalling. I have taken part in discussions involving a dozen people across multiple meetings dragging out over months on a matter worth only a few thousand dollars. I’ve seen three departments together take a month to decide on the expenditure of a hundred dollars. By contrast, engineering service contractors make their money by selling peoples’ time hence every minute must be accounted for, and very little is unproductive or wasted. If I cannot demonstrate that every minute I have spent has gone towards the progress of a defined task, my boss is going to twist my ear and demand to know what I have been doing. I seem to get along with my new boss thus far, but I am in no doubt that should he become displeased for any reason he will adopt the personality of a rottweiller that knows its about to be speyed. For the past week I have felt like somebody who has been eating Big Macs in front of the telly for a year and has woken one morning to find a bergen on his back, army boots on, and a sergeant major bellowing in his ear pointing towards a distant hill. I’m sure I’ll be back to fighting fitness soon enough.
Anyway, a new company means a new visa and for that reason I am in Kuala Lumpur getting one sorted out. As usual, the rules have all changed so I’m relying on the chaps who have done the same trip recently to brief me up on what to do. The form you download from the Russian embassy’s website is the wrong one, and you get given a different one containing the exact same questions only in a slightly different layout. The website and almost everybody you speak to says that there is a same-day service available, which there isn’t. The embassy is open for visas on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays both for document submission and collection, and so without a same-day service it means you have to wait a couple of days. The price paid for this by my colleage a couple of weeks ago was 840RM. Today, Monday, I handed in my documents, and was told they would be ready only on Thursday. Everybody had told me that the consular section wasn’t open on Thursdays, including the sign on the wall outside. But they insisted that it would be ready on Thursday and I should come then for collection. I was told the price would be 840RM “or maybe more” about a minute before being charged 480RM. This must be the first time in recorded history that anyone has paid less than the listed price for an official document in Russia. I will go back on Thursday and see what I have been issued, and whether it will get me into Russia.
Visa obtained. Now begins the journey back to Sakhalin…